On April 12, the office of Andaman Law College issued a circular instructing male and female students to sit separately in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, adding that the circular must be “viewed from parental angle in right perspective”.
Initially, a professor had only verbally asked male and female students to sit separately “on the instructions of the principal”, during a lecture session. However, some female students in that session vocally opposed his instruction. After this incident, the college issued the above mentioned circular.
The circular also highlighted a birthday celebration inside the campus wherein, it said, students indulged in an “indisciplined behaviour”. According to students, those who indulged in such a behaviour were outsiders, and not part of the college.
There is no clarity, however, on the relation between the birthday incident and asking students to sit separately. When LiveWire reached out to the administration, our questions were not entertained. We will update this copy as and when there is a response.
As of now, the college has suspended the students who participated in the party, and the circular has been put into effect for all batches.
While students say that they will have to follow what the circular says because the college will take strict action if anyone is found flouting the rules, they are not in favour of such a “discriminatory and regressive” rule.
“It is unfortunate that such a rule has been implemented in a law college which is supposed to be teaching us about the constitution and gender justice. They [the administration] think that the students in the Andamans don’t know anything about discrimination based on gender, but we do understand and this is the reason why the students opposed the professor,” said a student on the condition of anonymity.
Regarding the verbal spat with the professor in class, the student said, “We have always been taught to raise our voice against any kind of discrimination. Those students simply followed what we all have learnt here, and it was nowhere close to any kind of misbehaviour – as has been claimed by the administration.”
The circular also states that the concentration of professors in class is wavered when male and female students sit together and that they have “misunderstood” coeducation.
“…the closeness of girls and boys students in the class rooms especially in the COVID situation is being observed by the teachers while teaching. This practice is found only among few students who probably misunderstand coeducation. There are also instances where concentration of teachers was distracted by the conduct of such students and thereby the quality of teaching became causality,” reads the circular.
It is clear, a student says, that the administration is using COVID-19 as an excuse to impose this rule. “I can’t believe we are being asked to follow such a rule in the 21st century, in 2021, and that too in a law college – all in the middle of a pandemic when we should have been thinking about other issues,” said the student.
There are active student bodies in other colleges in the Andamans, but such bodies aren’t allowed to function in this college, students say. And other student bodies, too, they say, haven’t shown any interest in the matter. “The student unions in Andaman is run by the ABVP, but they haven’t reached out to us as yet,” added the student. “However, we will not stop here and will use authorised channels to bring up this issue with the administration yet again and share our concerns with them.”